Paving Her Way
By Rep. Kristi Noem
Kassidy, our oldest daughter, graduated from SDSU a few weeks ago, officially making Bryon and I the parents of a bona fide college graduate. She finished in four years with her Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business, something she earned while also being heavily involved in athletics, clubs, and intramural sports and working on the side. Kassidy is largely paying her own way, but she’s busy becoming a licensed appraiser now to start making a dent in those student loans.
I guess that pretty much sums up her last four years. Still, it doesn’t quite encapsulate the person she’s become in this time. To say that Bryon and I are proud of her would be an understatement. Kassidy is a hard worker. She’s incredibly responsible. She’s kind and adventurous – and perhaps most importantly, she has a deep love for the Lord.
As she walked across the platform in Frost Arena, my mind went back to the day she was born. It was several weeks after my dad had been killed in an accident at our family farm. We were struggling as a family to imagine a future without him. The days were filled with trying to make decisions, calve out the cows, and get the crop planted. The nights were filled with tears and wondering how God could have thought he needed a 49-year-old farmer in heaven when he still had so much to do here with us. I’ll be honest with you: I was mad and I felt devastated. The only thing that seemed to bring me any kind of peace was keeping busy with the cattle, so having a baby was not something I spent much time getting ready for.
Then came April 21 and everything changed. When Kassidy was born, she reminded our family how to be happy again. We started being optimistic about the future; I actually began to look forward to the next sunrise.
Kassidy, who we quickly nicknamed “Hop-a-long,” spent hours in tractors and combines and with Grandma Corinne. Even at three years old, she could sense when I was tired (and yes, maybe a little cranky). She’d look at me with these scolding eyes and remind me to fix my attitude, saying: “somebody’s crabby…!” She had a special love for animals. Almost everything was “pretty neat, huh?” And we always told her wonderful stories about her Grandpa Ron and how much he would have loved to meet her.
As Kassidy grew, more cousins were born and there was a lot for her to do. She kept them in line, made sure they behaved, and handed out chores like a boss. On my side of the family, she was the first cousin to play sports, go to school, drive, rodeo, and run equipment.
Today, Kassidy loves traveling, the outdoors, hunting and spending time with her family. She is often the one who volunteers to take long road trips with me when I need to attend meetings across the state. Time and again, she’s filled in for me if I have to be in DC as well.
Our second oldest, Kennedy, and I were discussing a trait of Kassidy’s the other day. Kennedy said, “I think Kass just has really high standards for other people.” I hadn’t really thought about it like that before, but Kennedy was right. Kassidy expects people to try to be their best, to be responsible, to serve the Lord, and to work hard, because she does. It may seem bossy to a little brother or type A to a friend, but it’s not a bad thing as long as it’s done with love.
Many families across South Dakota are celebrating graduations this time of year. It is a wonderful time to reflect on childhood memories and dream about the future. For our family, I’m excited to see what God has in store for Kassidy. While so much is unknown, I am confident that Grandpa Ron would have been proud.